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A How-To Guide to Addiction Counselling

Social and economic stresses have led to rising addiction rates throughout North America. Luckily, addiction counselling is available in most major North American cities.

Types of Addiction Counselling

There are various types of addiction counselling available. For example, clients may choose between inpatient and outpatient programs.

  • Inpatient Programs – Inpatient programs are those in which patients are admitted for a duration of 30, 60, and 90 days. Many inpatient programs offer detox prior to admission into the program as well. Detox programs can last up to 30 days. Inpatient programs often offer aftercare and counselling following the completion of the program.

Inpatient programs are best suited for individuals with serious addictions who need a safe and stable environment to recover.

The costs of these types of programs vary, often depending on factors, such as geographical location, type of facility, length of stay, and offered amenities. For example, inpatient programs can range from $125 USD per day to up to thousands of dollars. An average cost of treatment is approximately $7,000 USD, while a 90-day treatment program averages about $35,000 USD.

  • Outpatient Programs – Outpatient programs are best suited for clients who cannot take much time off work or school, or have family obligations. Outpatient programs often consist of daily or weekly meetings, allowing clients to maintain a routine, while continuing to stay home.

Outpatient programs are often much more affordable than inpatient programs. They are best suited for those with mild or controlled substance abuse or addiction issues. Continuing care and outpatient programs range from $30 to $50 USD per session.

Addiction Counselling Techniques

Behavioural Therapy Techniques – Some examples of addiction counselling techniques include behavioural therapy techniques, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT), the Matrix Model, and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR).

  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) – is known for applying coping strategies, such as avoidance or self-control to avoid potential relapse, as well as recognize and modify risky behaviour. CBT has proven helpful in cases of alcohol, marijuana, nicotine, cocaine, and methamphetamine addiction.
  • Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) – is best for individuals who struggle to control emotions and involves acceptance of thoughts and behaviours. DBT has proven effective in cases of mood disorders, personality disorders, eating disorders, and self-destructive behaviour.
  • The Matrix Model – is best known for giving individuals a framework for maintaining abstinence.
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) – is known for helping individuals reprocess traumatic memories. It works best for individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Motivational Therapies – In addition to behavioural techniques, motivational therapies are often also used during addiction counselling. For example, they are often used to reduce individuals’ doubts and uncertainties, and teach addicts how to change. This type of therapy is best suited for those addicted to alcohol, marijuana, and nicotine.

Alternative and Holistic Therapies – Next, many addiction counsellors are beginning to offer alternative and holistic therapies. These include yoga, meditation, and mindfulness, which are believed to reduce craving and even chronic pain often associated with addiction. Animal therapy, such as equine therapy involves horses, or voluntarily helping with animals in shelters. This type of therapy is believed to reduce fear, stress, and anger often associated with addiction. Acupuncture is also quickly becoming a popular alternative therapy, with increasing beliefs that the process may help addicts abstain from drug and alcohol abuse. Art therapy, such as painting, clay work, and pottery, and horticultural therapy involving gardening have also been proven to reduce stress, enhance critical thinking, and improve social integration.

Motivational Incentives – Finally, community reinforcement involves motivational incentives, such as familial, social, or recreational rewards. This type of approach works best for individuals struggling with alcohol, cocaine, and opioids.

How to Choose an Addictions Counsellor

Choosing addictions counsellor does not have to be a difficult process. For example, asking friends, coworkers, and family members for recommendations can be the first step. However, for individuals who are uncomfortable asking for recommendations, searching for online reviews and browsing through addiction counsellor websites is a great option as well. Be sure to take note of client testimonials and do not hesitate to ask addictions counsellors for referrals. Follow up with these referrals and ask questions.

Do not hesitate to shop around and choose the addictions counsellors that best suits ones needs.

Addictions counsellors can be divided into four main categories, including psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists, and substance abuse counsellors. It is imperative to know the difference to be able to choose one best suited for one’s needs. For instance, psychiatrists have the ability to provide counselling, as well as prescribe medication. Psychologists focus on helping patients change their behaviours. Therapists often have a holistic view of treatment, focusing on the mind, body, and soul. They are often social workers, professional counsellors, and family and marriage therapists. Finally, substance abuse counsellors often have post-secondary education in the study of addictions. Many are also recovering addicts themselves.

Ensure that the counsellor has experience in the type of addictions counselling that is needed. For example, some counsellors specialize in alcoholism, gambling, or substance abuse.

Once a counsellor has been selected, it is important to ask a few important questions. For example, be sure to ask about training, education, and background. What brought them to addictions counselling? Do they have real-life experience? Are they a recovering addict? What are their thoughts on addiction?  Do they believe that addiction is a disease?

Ensure that one feels comfortable with the addictions counsellor. They must be someone who one can speak openly with without fear.

Finally, financial considerations are also important. Ensure that the counsellor is within one’s budget. There are counsellors available in all sorts of price ranges.

Finding help for one’s addiction is now easier than ever, with the numerous quality addictions counsellors available all over North America. Do not hesitate to contact a counsellor in one’s local area for more information.


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